Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) occurs in older individuals with a median age at diagnosis of 72 years. In recent years, there has been considerable progress in the frontline therapy of elderly/physically unfit patients with CLL. The German CLL11 trial showed that addition of obinutuzumab to chlorambucil (G-Clb) prolongs progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) compared to chlorambucil alone or in combination with rituximab. More recently, obinutuzumab together with ibrutinib or venetoclax were shown to be superior to G-Clb with regard to PFS, but there was no advantage in terms of OS.

In this retrospective, multinational and multicenter co-operative study the European Research Initiative on CLL (ERIC) and the Israeli CLL Study Group (ICLLSG) evaluated the efficacy of frontline treatment with G-Clb in patients with CLL, in a "real-world" setting. Our analysis excluded CLL patients with documented del(17p) or TP53 mutations since they are no longer treated with chemotherapy.

Results: A total of 437 treatment-naïve patients with CLL from 51 medical centers located in 13 countries were included. The median age of this patient population was 75.9 years; 59.7% were men, median CIRS total score was 8 and estimated creatinine clearance 61.1 mL/min. Seventy four patients had Binet stage A (17.2%), 167 (38.8%) stage B and 190 (44.1%) stage C. Results of FISH and IGHV mutational status were available for 332 and 115 patients, respectively. High-risk cytogenetics, del(11q) was documented in 18.7% patients and IGHV-unmutated gene in 64.4%. The vast majority of patients were treated with G-Clb (N=408) and the rest with obinutuzumab monotherapy (G-monotherapy, N=29). The clinical overall response was 86.5%, including clinical complete and partial responses in 41.6% and 45.8% of cases, respectively. The median observation time was 14.1 months (m) and the median PFS of the entire cohort was 27.6m (95% CI, 24.2-31.0). The PFS for G-Clb was significantly better than G-monotherapy (P=0.001; HR=0.38, 95% CI: 0.22-0.67), being the 2-year PFS estimates 61.8% and 52.8%, respectively. The median PFS was significantly shorter for patients with del(11q) (19.2m) compared to those with normal FISH (not reached, P<0.001), del(13q) (29.9m, P<0.001) and trisomy12 (not reached, P=0.027). Patients with IGHV-unmutated had a trend for shorter PFS compared to those with IGHV-mutated gene (median PFS 25.3m vs. not reached, respectively. p=0.06). In a multivariate analysis, older age, high risk-disease, lymph nodes >5cm, G-monotherapy, reduced cumulative dose of obinutuzumab and status less than CR, were independently associated with shorter PFS. Seventy patients (16%) received a second-line treatment. The median OS for the entire cohort has not been reached yet and 2-year OS estimate is 88%.

In conclusion, in a "real-world" setting, frontline treatment with G-Clb achieves PFS comparable to that reported in clinical trials. Inferior outcomes were observed in patients with high-risk disease [del(11q) and/or IGHV-unmutated] and those treated with G-monotherapy. Thus, even today in the era of novel drugs, G-Clb can be considered a legitimate frontline treatment in unfit CLL patients with low-risk disease [non-del(11q) and IGHV-mutated].

Disclosures

Herishanu:Roche: Honoraria; AbbVie: Honoraria; Janssen: Honoraria. Simkovic:Roche: Honoraria; University Hospital Hradec Kralove: Employment; AbbVie: Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Gilead: Consultancy, Honoraria; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Acerta: Consultancy, Honoraria. Mauro:Gilead: Consultancy, Research Funding; Shire: Consultancy, Research Funding; Abbvie: Consultancy, Research Funding; Jannsen: Consultancy, Research Funding; Roche: Consultancy, Research Funding. Coscia:Abbvie: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Gilead: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Janssen: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding; Karyopharm Therapeutics: Research Funding. Scarfo:AstraZeneca: Honoraria; Janssen: Honoraria; AbbVie: Honoraria. Tedeschi:AbbVie: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Janssen spa: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Speakers Bureau; Gilead: Consultancy; AstraZeneca: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; SUNESIS: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Janssen: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Speakers Bureau; BeiGene: Honoraria. Gimeno Vázquez:JANSSEN: Consultancy, Speakers Bureau; Abbvie: Speakers Bureau. Assouline:F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd: Consultancy, Honoraria; Abbvie: Consultancy, Honoraria; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Speakers Bureau; Pfizer: Consultancy, Honoraria, Speakers Bureau. Levato:Novartis: Honoraria; Pfizer: Honoraria; Incyte: Honoraria; BMS: Honoraria. Rigolin:Gilead: Speakers Bureau; Gilead: Research Funding; AbbVie: Speakers Bureau. Loscertales:Janssen: Honoraria; Roche: Honoraria; AstraZeneca: Honoraria; AbbVie: Honoraria; Gilead: Honoraria. Ghia:Dynamo: Consultancy, Honoraria; AbbVie: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Acerta/AstraZeneca: Consultancy, Honoraria; ArQule: Consultancy, Honoraria; BeiGene: Consultancy, Honoraria; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Juno/Celgene: Consultancy, Honoraria; Sunesis: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Novartis: Research Funding; Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie Company: Consultancy; Gilead: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding.

Author notes

*

Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.